Flatley, who is in training ahead of his new dance show Lord of the Dance — Dangerous Games, attended the launch of the Connect-Ireland Initiative at Cork Airport yesterday and said it was vital that every step is taken to boost employment levels, particularly among young people.
“It is hugely important for younger generations. This is something that needed focus for a number of years and finally it’s getting the focus that it deserves.”
ConnectIreland, which works with the IDA in attracting jobs to Ireland, has already succeeded in bringing 164 positions to Cork.
Under the scheme, anyone who provides Connect-Ireland with a tip-off regarding a company seeking to expand into Europe which ultimately leads to them providing employment here is paid a reward of up to €1,500 per job.
Joanna Murphy, chief operating officer at ConnectIreland, said: “Our overall target is for 5,000 jobs over five years and we are on course to beat that.”
Flatley, who owns the Castlehyde estate near Fermoy, Co Cork, said “no-one wants to leave Ireland” and that greater employment opportunities would ensure people would have a better chance of being able to settle here.
“Ireland has experienced remarkable success in the past and there’s no reason why we can’t experience that again.
“We all need a more positive mindset collectively.”
Others backing Connect-Ireland include Niall MacCarthy, MD of Cork Airport, and Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney, who said: “ConnectIreland is already working hand in hand with the IDA, under the Succeed in Ireland initiative, to follow up on dozens of leads already generated through their work in Cork Airport.”
Meanwhile, head of communications at Cork Airport, Kevin Cullinane, said passenger traffic there this summer was likely to outstrip figures for last year.
Michael Flatley will be “very sad” to bow out of live performance following his Lord of the Dance — Dangerous Games show which is due to premiere in 2014.
Outlining the rigours of training for the show, Flatley, who will turn 56 in July, said he was looking forward to performing on stage at Dublin’s O2.
“The rehearsals are going great, I am in great shape, I feel very strong, but for me, being in those last two big numbers in the show is about all my body can take…
“It’s very sad for me to have to leave the stage but we all have to do it sometime… It will be sad, but I wasn’t even going to dance in the O2 or the Belfast shows, but it’s Ireland, and I wanted to do it one more time and hopefully I’ll still be able to do that.”